Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will this week consider recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot for ages 12 to 15. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized such use last week.
Also, on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), CDC is now endorsing a general “clinical preference” for the two mRNA vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — over Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine. CDC relates that the two mRNA vaccines are in abundant supply, with nearly 100 million doses immediately available. However, ACIP has reaffirmed that getting any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated, so persons unable or unwilling to receive mRNA vaccinations will continue to have access to J&J’s vaccine.
As of Tuesday morning, the Dashboard of the Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) reported recently confirmed cases (last two weeks) of COVID at Idyllwild School as being one student and no staff members, meaning 0.33% of its combined student/staff population, the same as reported for the last two weeks. At Hemet High, 13 students and no staff members are reported as confirmed cases, which is 0.50% of its student/staff population, the same as reported for the last three weeks. The HUSD Dashboard states: “Positive cases will appear on the Dashboard for 14 days from the date they are reported and then will be removed after the 14th day.” So, HUSD’s rolling Dashboard reports active cases confirmed during the previous two weeks.
As of Tuesday, Riverside County Public Health (RCPH) reported 246 total cases of COVID in the Idyllwild-Pine Cove community, with four deaths and 237 recovered, leaving five cases currently active in the community — one more than last week.
County-wide, RCPH is now reporting a total of 404,603 confirmed COVID cases (11,639 more than last week, and nearly double last week’s increase over the previous week) with 5,589 total deaths (35 more than last week and nearly double last week’s increase over the previous week), and with 386,994 COVID cases having recovered, leaving 12,020 active cases in Riverside County, nearly double last week’s active cases. The county reports 595 hospitalized COVID patients (224 more than last week), 101 of which are in intensive care units (ICU). On Tuesday morning, the state’s website reported 71 ICU beds available in Riverside County (18 fewer than last week). CDC continues to rate Riverside County as a “High” transmission area.
RCPH reports that, as of Jan. 3 in Riverside County, 8.7% of the population ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated — while 48.1% of ages 12 to 15, about 54.3% of ages 16 to 24, 58.1% of ages 25 to 44, 71.4% of ages 45 to 64 and 74.7% of ages 65-plus have been fully vaccinated. Currently, the term “fully vaccinated” does not include boosters. Visit https://rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine-with-Registration to schedule vaccinations.
As of Jan. 4, California reported 5,428,522 total confirmed COVID cases statewide (438,461 more than last week and eight times last week’s increase over the previous week), with 75,924 resulting deaths (463 more than last week).
The Omicron variant’s symptoms appear to be less severe than Delta’s, but it is clear that Omicron is extremely transmissible, person-to-person — far more so than the Delta variant. In December, Omicron became the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S. — it is now characterized as “surging” throughout the country.
CDC continues to advise that vaccination, along with other important prevention strategies, continues to be the best defense against severe COVID disease. CDC urges to: 1) get vaccinated as soon as possible, with a booster shot just as soon as you are eligible for one; 2) wear a mask that covers both your nose and your mouth when in indoor public places; 3) whenever possible, stay 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with; 4) avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces; 5) continue to wash your hands often with soap and water, using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available; and 6) “consider” self-testing before attending indoor gatherings, and if you test positive, or you are sick and have symptoms, don’t go.
California’s mask mandate continues at indoor businesses, including restaurants where patrons are mandated to wear masks “except when eating or drinking.”
COVID vaccinations are available in Idyllwild by appointment at Idyllwild Pharmacy and monthly at Idyllwild School on scheduled vaccination Saturdays — the next scheduled Idyllwild School vaccination date is this coming Saturday, Jan. 8.
Further CDC resources are available at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/.